Manufacturing association says blockades taking big pinch out of Alberta’s economy

Click to play video: 'Alberta border blockade hits province’s energy, agriculture industries hard'
Alberta border blockade hits province’s energy, agriculture industries hard
WATCH: Alberta border blockade hits province's energy, agriculture industries hard – Feb 11, 2022

The Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters association is calling for an immediate end to the trucker blockades at the borders, saying some businesses in Alberta’s energy sector are just days from shutting down.

The CME said the blockades, including the one at Coutts, Alta., mean critical supplies like steel and electrical components are sitting at the border, taking longer to arrive as truckers try to bypass the protests or orders are being cancelled altogether.

Read more: Ambassador Bridge blockades: Honda Canada halts production at Ontario car plant

Vice President David MacLean said it’s having a big impact on Alberta’s oil and gas manufacturing sector and our economy overall.

“We estimate that the impact on that is about $600 million over the last two weeks, about $44 million a day crosses the border in either direction,” said MacLean.

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“The impact on Alberta’s economy is significant, both for manufacturers locally and for exporters. The U.S. is our largest market so it’s critically important to get that blockade cleared.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta border blockade remains adamant, demands nationwide mandates lifted'
Alberta border blockade remains adamant, demands nationwide mandates lifted

He said time is of the essence.

“If manufacturers can’t provide the materials needed in oil and gas then ultimately it’s going to impact our biggest sector which is our energy industry… it’s days not weeks before we start to see shutdowns.”

Read more: Alberta NDP calls on UCP to suspend commercial operators licences as Coutts protest enters 13th day

The CME and Canadian Trucking Alliance have written a joint letter to the federal government, calling for action to end the stand-off.

“Our nation’s truck drivers, who are caught up in these blockades are at personal risk, and the manufacturers that rely on trucking services are being forced to shut down,” the letter reads.

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“We must restore Canada’s image as a good place to invest and do business and ensure our trucking and manufacturing industries continue to thrive.”

MacLean said the groups met with Canada’s transportation minister this week and have been assured the government is aware of the magnitude of the impact.

Click to play video: 'Alberta cattle farmer’s beef with the Coutts blockade'
Alberta cattle farmer’s beef with the Coutts blockade

Alberta’s cattle industry is hurting, too.

With 80 per cent of Canadian beef produced here, the president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association is calling for the protest to end.

“I believe it’s gone too far now. It’s starting to disrupt trade, it’s starting to disrupt commerce,” said Bob Lowe.

Read more: Premier Doug Ford declares state of emergency amid protests at land border and in Ottawa

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On Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency, in response to the ongoing illegal occupation in Ottawa and barricading of the bridge connecting Windsor and Detroit.

The Ontario Superior Court also granted an injunction preventing protesters from blocking the Ambassador Bridge.

Alberta’s government doesn’t plan on following Ontario down the same road.

Click to play video: 'Trucker protests: What are the economic impacts of the anti-mandate demonstrations?'
Trucker protests: What are the economic impacts of the anti-mandate demonstrations?

A statement from Premier Jason Kenney’s press secretary said the government is leaving enforcement and operational decisions to Alberta RCMP.

“These blockades need to end, period, and the government has made it clear that that is our position,” Justin Brattinga wrote in an email. “Blockading critical infrastructure like highways is against the law, and Alberta has given the RCMP the tools they need to end the blockade, including the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act.”

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Earlier in the week, acting Justice Minister and Solicitor General Sonya Savage said the province was looking into a civil injunction against those barricading the border crossing at Coutts.

Read more: Injunction granted to prevent protesters from blocking Ambassador Bridge

But as of Tuesday, the province had not applied for an injunction.

“Right now, we don’t see the necessity of doing so, at the present time – the situation is evolving,” she said Tuesday. “But applying for an injunction is an additional tool that we could bring if it would help bring a conclusion to the blockade.”

The northbound and southbound lanes at the Coutts-Sweetgrass border crossing remain closed.

–with files from Global News’ Heather Yourex-West and Adam Toy, and The Canadian Press

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